- Munich (München) is the capital of Bavaria, an area the Romans originally conquered in the first century b.c. The beneficially situated village of Munich came under Carolingian dynastic rule in the 10th century and received its city charter in 1158. The Wittelsbach ruling house made Munich its residence in 1255, and Munich came under the influence of the court. Guilds also had a strong cultural impact on the city's life, staging cycle plays in the mid-14th century and attracting touring troupes throughout the 15th century. By 1500 guild cycles reached their zenith in Munich in number and ostentation, owing to the support of both the church bishops and the Wittelsbach princes. The 16th century is noteworthy for the expansion of the Jesuit presence in Munich; the 1568 marriage of William V and Renate of Lorraine was a particular occasion of unprecedented theatrical display throughout the city.Jesuit schools continued to stage performances in a lavish fashion, but not until 1653 was the first theater built in Munich. It was installed in the royal residence and became known as the Residenz Theater. Four years later the Wittelsbachs built an opera house near the residence and for decades it remained Munich's primary performance venue, mostly for Italian opera. In 1751 the Wittelsbach prince Max III Joseph commissioned architect François de Cuvilliés (1695-1768) to build what became the most costly theater structure anywhere in German-speaking Europe; the Cuvilliés Theater opened in 1753 and became a showplace of aristocratic grandeur.In 1765 the court made plans to institute a dramatic theater dedicated solely to spoken drama; soon thereafter a brewery was refurbished and christened the National Schaubühne. When Bavaria became an independent kingdom in 1808, the place was renamed the Court and National Theater. In 1811 a lavish new structure housing both opera and dramatic productions arose, but it burned to the ground in 1823. It reopened in 1830 and a series of aristocrats ran the place until 1919. Friedrich Hebbel's Agnes Bernauer premiered there in 1852, and beginning in the mid-1860s, several private theaters began to appear on the Munich theater scene, including the Gärtnerplatz Theater, the Deutsches Theater, the Schauspielhaus, the Volkstheater, and the Prince Regent's Theater.By 1900 Munich's population had experienced a fivefold increase over the previous 50 years, to more than half a million; many of the new theaters carved out niches for themselves to serve a variety of tastes among the growing population. In the early 1900s Munich was the site of numerous world premieres, attesting to the city's growing reputation as a more amenable, or at least a less intensely urbanized, city than the Reich capital Berlin. In 1907 Georg Fuchs (1868-1949) founded the Munich Artists' Theater, dedicated to reforming the actor-audience relationship by eschewing illusionism, dispensing with the stage apron, and cultivating the ideal of "transorchestral unity." The result was a "relief stage," in which actors had little room to move on an extremely shallow stage space; they thus assumed statu-tuary poses. The Kammerspiele was founded in late 1912, and early in 1913 Erich Ziegel assumed its leadership; Otto Falckenberg became its director in 1917 and under him the Kammerspiele developed as one of the premiere theaters in Germany.At the Munich Volkstheater, the "firm" of Franz Arnold and Ernst Bach held sway in the 1920s, while Falckenberg attracted numerous outstanding actors and directors to Munich for the next two decades. Falckenberg had directed the world premiere of August Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata in 1915, and in 1922 he staged the world premiere of Bertolt Brecht's Trommeln in der Nacht (Drums in the Night) at the Kammerspiele. Erich Engel became the Kam-merspiele's director immediately after World War II, followed by Hans Schweikart from 1947 to 1963. Under Schweikart and his successor August Everding, Fritz Kortner conducted his most significant work during the postwar period. His 1954 Waiting for Godot was a high-water mark for Munich's theater in the 1950s, and the training Kortner gave to Peter Stein and Jürgen Flimm in the 1960s at the Kammerspiele had an impact felt well into the 1990s. Dieter Dorn's work at the Kammerspiele began in the 1970s, and his is the work most closely associated with Munich itself since that decade.
Historical dictionary of German Theatre. William Grange. 2006.
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